The rain stopped falling on the wet grounds of the Diamond T arena outside Denton on the second day of the Texas Tradition annual charity rodeo last weekend. The sun came out sans rainbow, but there was plenty of gay pride inside, and some straight pride too.
Two days of regular rodeo — produced by the Texas Gay Rodeo Association — plus some entertaining events with underwear on goats, ribbons on steers’ tails and more fabulous fashion trying to ride a steer were taking a toll on contestants. It seemed by Sunday many found themselves sore or walking stiff.
One special guest was Joshua Goyne, a 19-year-old cowboy from New South Wales, Australia, whose video standing up to homophobes went viral and resulted in a fund-raising campaign by the International Gay Rodeo Association to bring him to Texas.
Goyne rode bulls in Texas, including one dressed as “Hannah Moantana” in Wild Drag Race (see video), a gay rodeo tradition. Josh was welcomed like a celebrity. He was instantly made part of the rodeo family and he jumped right into what makes gay rodeo a community-oriented rodeo: deciding, along with newly made friends, to try his hand at goat dressing and the Wild Drag Race, plus joining in the IGRA charity rodeo.
He had support behind the chutes for steer and bull riding but was counseled out of trying ranch saddle bronc riding. He did calf roping on foot, chute dogging, posed for pictures and shopped at the silent auction. He covered in some events, didn’t in others, but still went home with a buckle (presented by a competitor) and a ribbon.
“The biggest standout would be the hospitality and acceptance of the Yanks,” Goyne said. “They were all so kind and caring.”
Goyne said the competition was tough with good-quality bulls, and that jet lag from his flight from Australia made things even tougher. He traveled with his partner, James, and plans to return to the U.S. in July for the Colorado Gay Rodeo Assoc. rodeo in Denver at the Jefferson Co. Fairgrounds.
Another fun dynamic was the participation of straight cowboys and cowgirls. The women came to participate in bull riding, something they’re not allowed to participate in at many mainstream rodeos, and all commented on how fun the event was. When asked about the rodeo being gay, one woman said, all Southern sincere, that it wasn’t her cup of tea, but that she had no problem with it.
One of the straight male competitors, Dalton, just found about gay rodeo the week before. He got into the spirit of Wild Drag, and when one team was short a member, Dalton jumped in and he rocked it with a low-cleavage fancy dress. His team did well.
Ryan Reed contributed to this story.